Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir today apologised to the friends and family of Stephen Gately for the timing of her column about the death of the former Boyzone singer.
Moir used her column today to say she was horrified by condemnation of her as “homophobic” and “hateful” and that it was never her intention to cause such offence.
She said she recognised Gately’s family were in mourning and publication of her article last Friday – the day before his burial – was insensitive: “To them, I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral.”
Moir caused outrage last week when she used her column to say there was “nothing natural” about the singer’s death which occurred in “sleazy” circumstances.
She wrote that Gately’s death: “strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships” and that “Once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.”
Her article prompted a record 25,000 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission after it spread quickly across the internet.
Moir said she had been the victim of “hysterical overreaction” and an “orchestrated campaign” by vested interests and pressure groups.
She said: “Can it really be that we are becoming a society where no one can dare to question the circumstances or behaviour of a person who happens to be gay without being labelled a homophobe? If so, that is deeply troubling.”
Moir said the outcry was not all one-sided and that she’d received: “thousands of supportive emails from readers and well-wishers, many of whom described themselves as ‘the silent majority’.”
She said: “I accept that many people – on Twitter and elsewhere – were merely expressing their own personal and heartfelt opinions or grievances. This said I can’t help wondering: is there a compulsion today to see bigotry and social intolerance where none exists by people who are determined to be outraged? Or was it a failure of communication on my part?
“Certainly, something terrible went wrong as my column ricocheted through cyberspace, unread by many who complained, yet somehow generally and gleefully accepted into folklore as a homophobic rant.”
Moir rejected the assertion that her motive was to insinuate Gately’s death was linked to his sexuality. She said her assertion that there was “nothing natural” about Gately’s death has been “wildly misinterpreted”.
She said: “What I meant by ‘nothing natural’ was that the natural duration of his life had been tragically shortened in a way that was shocking and out of the ordinary. Certainly, his death was unusual enough for a coroner to become involved.”
Moir said she was on record as being a supported of same-sex marriage but that her comments about the “happy ever after myth” was that civil partnerships can be as “problematic as heterosexual marriages”.